definition of a “slum”

Further Adventures in documents

Thursday I got my visa renewed. On arrival I only had the cash for a one-month visa due to my book-shipping problem, and now I am legally here til I leave Aug 2nd. The visa cost $94 USD, it was the last of my bills for the summer. Oh yes I will need to buy food; but since the rent and phone are now pre-paid, any other things I spend money on will be “discretionary.”

To get the visa, I had to go to a different part of town, near Singha Durbar, the Parliament building. Hopped on an inbound bus without asking where it was going, ended up at Ratna Park, which was close enough. Walked around the Tundikhel from there through the Bus Park. A friend of mine used to live in that neighborhood, and I thought about past walks down that same street, to visit the area.

What is a Slum, anyway?

In the videos section of the Books fan page, there’s a market where I took a shot of the hole in the wall through which garbage is shoveled into a nearby stream. That’s the place I am talking about, not far from Model Hospital.
Most Americans would call this spot a ” crowded urban slum”- which got me to thinking about the specific definition of slum… Google retrieved more than one. The word origin is Gaelic (?) But it seemed ever so much better to choose an official definition from India:

“A compact area of at least 300 population or about 60-70 households of poorly built congested tenements, in unhygienic environment usually with inadequate infrastructure and lacking in proper sanitary and drinking water facilities.”

Some Americans I know would also call it a “Favela” – but, the land on which it sits is too flat to really count as a Favela. :-)

Which about sums it up. There is, however, a vibrancy in these areas not captured by the dictionary. A hodge-podge of activity, small shops juxtaposed on each other and spilling into the street.

My friend lived there because it was tucked in behind Putalisadak. And inexpensive. Also lots of people from the Terai in that area. Many other parts of Kathmandu have gone upscale. Mostly the neighborhood had not changed, there was still the ultra-fast momo place, and cheap too – 40 nrs for a steaming plate of good ones. For entertainment this time, there was a large unruly herd of goats in the middle of the street, being coaxed to an uncertain destiny ( uncertain to the goats, anyway).

There is no official definition of a “slumdog” from what I can tell. The dogs are well fed though….

Another two killometers and I found the Immigration Office, brand new brick building in an unpaved parking lot, the furniture inside was old and out of place, probably pried up off the floor of the old Immigration Office during the move. Dusty, as is everything nowadays.

The clerk handed me the application and I immediately realized I was not prepared – did not have a passport photo with me, to staple to the application for the visa.

What was I thinking? Have I learned nothing?

As always, there was a tout right there, a guy on the lookout for helpless souls like me. He beckoned for me to follow him outside the Immigration Office gate, straight to a passport-photo guy sitting under a beach umbrella twenty meters away. He sat at a steel box with wheels like a beach vendor would have, but instead of dispensing cold drinks or sweets, there was a digi-cam printer inside. Ten minutes later and 300 nrs lighter – presto!

What service!

They tried to tell me it would take til 4:30 today before it would be ready, and to stay right there and give them the money. I decided to take my chances without an “agent” on this one, then thanked them and returned to the counter.
In a half hour the chore was done.

Back on a bus bound for Kupondole, 15 nrs. I picked up the last of my photocopying for Bhairawa, and headed back to the Guest House. Started to sort through the things I will bring for my three days to the Terai.

Loaves and Fishes, part sixty….

The Crown Jewel, the heaviest item, is a textbook on Critical Care Nursing, which I will present to Monica Basistha, the TNS grad who spearheaded the event. Bringing my doxycycline, and also my cipro, just in case. The laptop. My ACLS materials of course.

I wish I had rhythm simulation software for the laptop. Next time. All it would have needed would be the Onlyest Six Rhythms.

Today I will go to LNC for some errands, maybe do some sightseeing…..


PS today I linkedin with a nurse now in Oz, who sent me her blog link:

More on this connection, later

About Joe Niemczura, RN, MS

Experienced nursing educator and problem-solver. I have fifteen years of USA nursing faculty background, and fifteen of adult critical care background. In Nepal, I started teaching critical care skills in 2011. I figure out what they need to know in a Nepali practice setting. Then I teach it in a culturally appropriate way so that the boots-on-the-ground people will use it. I travel outside of Kathmandu Valley as well. When the recent violence happened, I knew the cities - I had trained people in those locations. One theme of my work has been collective culture and how it manifests itself in anger. Because this was a problem I incorporated elements of "situational awareness" training from the beginning, in 2011. Global Health Nursing is not all sweetness and light; not solely milk & honey and happy moms and babies.
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